VOYA - Diane ColsonWith clarity and objectivity, veteran author Stephen Krensky takes on some of the most pivotal documents in the history of the United States. The Bill of Rights examines the history and composition, and a look at how past interpretations affect the lives of students today. The narrative is extremely readable, with each chapter further divided by topical headings. Portraits, historical cartoons, and quotes are placed appropriately within context. Students who need the book for quick research will discover that locating specific information is easy with the clean organizational structure and a thorough index. In the sections on each amendment, the original text is quoted verbatim, and then explained in everyday context. The Emancipation Proclamation is also well-organized and attractive. Krensky begins his historical narrative with the day in 1858 when Abraham Lincoln stated, "I believe this government cannot endure, permanently, half slave and half free." This seemed to announce Lincoln's commitment to end slavery, but some of Lincoln's subsequent statements and actions indicate that he was more politician than humanitarian. Students may draw their own conclusions when reading Lincoln's actual words. As a supplement to traditional history texts, Documents in Democracy flushes out the subtleties of historical documents, demonstrating that the words omitted can be just as powerful as the words chosen. This is the appeal of the series: Begin with the choice of words, in the context of an earlier time, and see how their meanings have been transformed or forgotten. In each volume, Krensky follows the ripples these documents have created throughout history. The Emancipation Proclamation, for example, concludes with the election of President Barack Obama. The publisher recommends the series for eighth grade and up, although middle schools with advanced history classes could benefit as well. (Documents in Democracy) Reviewer: Diane Colson
School Library Journal - School Library JournalGr 5–8—Krensky's largely standard coverage places each document into historical context, explaining the conditions that led to its creation and describing how it was written and adopted. He summarizes each document's contents and analyzes its continuing relevance. Every book reproduces the entire text of its titular document and includes captioned period reproductions, photos, and sidebars provide supplemental information. Although these books will help report writers understand the founding documents, they do not improve on the many other available titles about the same subjects, making them additional choices.
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